It’s not big news that the political blogospheres are dominated by alpha males, which is quite unsatisfactory because blogging as such isn’t. The problem may be that men decide what is political blogging and what isn’t. What about EU blogging in this regard, wonders Ronny Patz?
A quick look into the euroblogosphere does not at all contradict this view of male dominance in political blogging, although due to a lack of empirical research on EU blogging we don’t have a comprehensive picture. The last time somebody took a closer look at female EU blogging two years ago, the counting went up to just over 20 EU blogs written by women. This is quite a low figure, and of those mentioned at the time several have stopped blogging or do not blog about EU topics anymore.
So it is time to make up a new list – and who would be better suited to do so than a male blogger!? I basically find that the number of blogs on EU affairs written by women or by teams with a majority of female writers is still quite low – an estimated 10-15% active EU blogs. Nevertheless, this figure creates the impression that these voices could in any way be neglected – which they can’t be. So: Who are those “women who run the EU blogosphere” in 2012?
The most active and most recognisable bloggers in the European Commission are the female Commissioners. My favourites remain Kristalina Georgieva (Humanitarian Aid) and Cecilia Malmström (Home Affairs; also in English) – the first because she has a genuine human tone when blogging and the second because of her frequency and eclectic blogging including on topics that are worth a good political debate. Two other Commissioners are also writing blogs (or are having their blogs written): Maria Damanaki (Fisheries) and Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda). The latter is probably the best known and most read as her portfolio quite naturally attracts digital attention although the blog lacks a bit in personality (contrary to Commissioner Kroes herself).
Members of the European Parliament
It is a bit difficult to find good blogs written by members of the European Parliament; many of those who have a blog-like website have a strong tendency to (mis)use these as dumps for press releases instead of giving genuine and readable commentary (this is the same for men and women). Nevertheless, there are some interesting blogs written by female members of the European Parliament, such as the ones by Corina Cretu, Sophie in’t Veld, Monica Macovei, Debora Serracchiani, Edit Bauer, Helga Trüpel, Izaskun Bilbao, Laima Andrikiene or Amelia Andersdotter. With a little research, one can also stumble over the video blogs by Ska Keller or by Astrid Lulling. And female MEPs may also write on other blogs, such as the contributions by Franziska Brantner to the German feminist blog Maedchenmannschaft.
Working for EU institutions
Probably one of the most entertaining blogs written by people working in the EU institutions is the blog of the European Parliament web editors. And although the head of the team is a man, the majority of blogs posts on “Writing for (y)EU” is actually written by women. Another blog to note is the one by the vice president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Anna Maria Darmanin. It lacks a bit in frequency, but it has seen some very good posts including some that take on an explicit female perspective. Aurelie Valtat in her blog does not shy away from mixing posts written from her professional perspective as social media advisor to the EU and European Council and her perspective as a mother. And Antonia Mochan from the EU Commission representation in the UK has recently moved her blog to a new address and one can hope that she keeps up the great blogging that we have seen from her in recent years.
Eva En Europa is probably one of the most recognisable female Eurobloggers these days, with a clearly voiced political opinion – and especially if you speak Spanish, you may not want to miss her blog. And if you speak Spanish, you should also not miss Más Europa written by Encarna Hernández whose extensive analytical pieces are much more than quick commentary on recent EU developments. In English, you may want to read reszatonline by Beate Reszat whose economic and financial analysis of the Euro area are well beyond some of the more off-the-gut economic commentary you may read on some male blogs. On the Politics In Spires blog, Kirsty Hughes gives regular commentary on EU high level politics.
When you look into blogs and Twitter, one could have the impression that EU journalism is done mainly by men. Yet, great euroblogs are written by female journalists such as the sharp comments in Behind the Scenes by Honor Mahoney. Macarena Rodríguez’ prize-awarded Spanish euroblog with a focus on EU communications should also not miss on your list of EU blogs written by women. With only three blog posts, Lucia Virostkova’s Danubian ironies, is still young and small, but she hopefully continues to give us her informed view on European perspectives from Slovakia. And also Iulia Badea Guéritée as the main author on the Romanian Presseurope blog helps to bring the EU and European perspective to Europeans who can read the wonderful Romanian language (multumesc!).
Multi-author blogs/online magazines
Less blog and more online magazine is Europe and Me. With 11 out of 16 team members being women, this European magazine mixing politics, culture and lifestyle stands out among the many male strongholds in that category. The Lithuanian Euroblogas has a team of authors where 7 out of 11 bloggers are women. On Cafebabel Brussels (EN), more than 50% of the articles in recent months have been written by women. An interesting example is L’Europa @ torvergata: Despite the fact that more than 50% of the 22 editors are female, only about a quarter of recent blog posts are written by the women. And good developments can be found on the European Student Think Tank blog where after a period of “male dominance” the last ~20 posts are equally shared between female and male bloggers.
The USA-born Techpresident blog with a focus on developments in the digital sphere and digital politicas has, thanks to Antonella Napolitano, a Europe-focussed section. The two great French and German ladies of Vasistas should not be missed in the list of EU blogs written by women. Thanks to their good connection to the most influential German blog Netzpolitik.org, they manage to get attention to important developments on the EU level to a German audience. Finally, my dear friend Europasionaria has not been blogging as active as in the past recently, but given that her blog has been a crucial part of my euroblogosphere, she cannot be missed here.
In quantitative figures, men seem to dominate EU blogging. Men even seem to dominate EU tweeting, although subjectively I would say that there are more women tweeting about EU affairs than women who are blogging about EU stuff. But the many examples above also show that it does not take much effort to find dozens of examples of EU blogs and blog posts written by women. If on average you read 2-3 EU-related blog posts per day, you could spend most of the days just reading blog posts written by (great and less great) female EU bloggers without ever reading a single male blog post.
In the end, it’s the same with female political blogging as it is with women in leadership positions: It’s too often argued that there are not enough “qualified” female candidates, while there are usually enough of them if one would just open ones eyes. So it’s not like – as the title of this blog post implies – that “Women don’t blog about EU politics“, it’s just that in a political environment where male politicians, male journalists and male bloggers still have the majority, attention to male blogging and male bloggers is also still higher than attention to female bloggers.
But men, be aware that the tides are changing in the virtual life as they are changing in the physical live – and not just the EU Girl Geeks are already on their way!
PS: Please use the comments to this blog post to point to further female EU bloggers or multi-blogs without male dominance; I am sure I must have missed some.
Updates (last 13:46): Missed in the list above: Sandrine Bellier (MEP).
Note: This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics.
This article first appeared on Polscieu.
Ronny Patz is a political scientist at the University of Potsdam (Germany) with a keen interest in European affairs and network theory. His PhD thesis examines information flows in the context of EU policy-making. Patz is a co-editor of bloggingportal.eu and in 2010 and 2011, he was a volunteer advisor to the EU office of Transparency International.